close this bookVolume 10: No. 02
View the documentNSF news
View the documentOther opportunities
View the documentPolitics and policy
View the documentSecurity and privacy
View the documentIndustry news
View the documentApple news
View the documentInternet resources
View the documentEducation
View the documentAgent systems

Upcoming NSF deadlines include: CISE Research Infrastructure Program, 25Jan00; The Action Agenda for Engineering Curriculum Innovation, 31Jan00; Science and Technology Studies, (01Feb00); Research Experience for Graduates Supplements, 01Feb00; Societal Dimensions of Engineering, Science and Technology: Ethics and Values, (01Feb00); Information Technology Research (ITR), 14Feb00 (and 17Apr00?); Computation and Social Systems, (15Feb00); Human Computer Interaction, (15Feb00); Knowledge and Cognitive Systems, (15Feb00); Robotics and Human Augmentation, (15Feb00); Information and Data Management, (15Feb00); Special Projects in Networking, 15Feb00; Visualization and Graphics Advanced Computational Research Program, 01Mar00; Exploratory Research in Model-Based Simulation, 23Mar00; Terascale Computing System Program, 03Apr00. . See also for deadlines in NSF's Div. of International Programs, or for Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities. [NSF E-Bulletin, 01Jan00.] (Parentheses indicate target dates rather than deadlines.)

NSF's Terascale Computing System program solicitation is . [CNS, 29Dec99.]

NSF's Nanoscale Modeling and Simulation program solicitation is . [CNS, 11Jan00.]

NSF/ENG has a new research initiative on model-based simulation (MBS) "to foster an integration of computational sciences, modeling and information technologies for simulating and visualizing the behavior of complex engineering and natural systems in structures, geotechnical, controls and dynamics, solid mechanics, materials engineering, manufacturing and materials processing, civil infrastructure systems and construction management." 23Mar00; Div. of Civil and Mechanical Systems, (703) 306-1361. . [ScienceWise Alert, 07Jan00.]

A few NSF emailed award letters were sent out dated year 0 instead of 2000, and may be overlooked if your email reader sorts messages by date. [, 13Jan00.]

----- "Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money." -- Jack Handey. -----

IBM's Inst. for Advanced Commerce (IAC) will award a one-year fellowship to the student who submits the best doctoral thesis proposal -- possibly ongoing -- in the area of electronic commerce. The award includes a summer position at IBM Research. . [Jay Vegso , CRA Bulletin, 04Jan00.]

PhD student/postdoc travel support is available for the 4th Int. Conf. on Cognitive and Neural Systems, 24-27May00 in Boston. NSF/LIS is sponsoring the conference. Apply to Cynthia Bradford by 28Jan00. . [Nora Sabelli . John C. Cherniavsky , 06Jan00.]

UHuddersfield (UK) is seeking IST Programme partners for the "development of process innovation through the use of hypermedia tools in the creation and transfer of tacit knowledge." , 44 1484 473192, 44 1484 450408 fax. . [ScienceWise Alert, 07Jan00.]

----- "All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income." -- Samuel Butler. -----

Congress has asked the National Research Council to conduct a study on information technology workforce needs over the next decade. See for project details and regional open session dates. [Jay Vegso , CRA Bulletin, 07Jan00.]

President Clinton's 2001 budget request on 07Feb00 will include a major new initiative in science, calling for a "balanced research portfolio" and fundamental research, rather than Gingrich Republican-opposed technology funding and corporate aid through NIST/ATP. Industry R&D is up sharply -- due to economic prosperity, driven largely by advances in science -- and there is a consensus that the government should support basic research. "The unified message delivered by scientific societies over the past three years has sunk in." [Robert L. Park, WHAT'S NEW, 07Jan00.]

----- "It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem." -- G. K. Chesterton. -----

Clinton's budgeted $2B counter cyber-terrorism plan would increase US computer security R&D 35%, to $621M. A Scholarships for Service program would give 300 graduate and undergraduate scholarships annually in exchange for work after graduation. An Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection, would create joint security research ventures between the government and private companies, and 5K-10K government IT security workers would be given additional training. [USA Today, 07Jan00. Edupage.]

The Clinton Administration has decided to remove most restrictions on the exportation of powerful data encryption software, except to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba. Companies need seek government permission only when they plan to sell to a foreign government or military organization, and the definitions of those entities have been clarified and narrowed. Novell chairman Eric Schmidt says this "clearly sets the stage for the next big growth phase of the Internet." [AP. SJM, 13Jan00. NewsScan.]

Computer vandals recently broke into Romania's Finance Ministry website, altered the national currency exchange rate, and declared the imposition of "stupidity taxes" on people in proportion to the importance of positions they hold. [AP. SJM, 03Nov99. NewsScan.]

Members of L0pht Heavy Industries, a Boston hacker group, have founded the AtStake computer security consulting firm with $10M in venture capital. Security experts and executives will oversee the likes of "Space Rogue," "Dildog," and "Mudge." [AP. St. Petersburg Times, 07Jan00. NewsScan.]

The Clinton Administration has asked NSF to open a year-long study of online voting. [USA Today, 17Dec99. Edupage.]

A California study has concluded that Internet security is not yet sufficient for digital voting. [NY Times, 15Dec99.] (Duh.)

A Washington state judge has ruled that email and online chat forums are outside the state privacy laws preventing phone conversations from being recorded without your permission. [NY Times Cyber Law Journal, 14Jan00. NewsScan.] (The chat ruling is controversial, but it would never be wise to assume that chat or instant messaging isn't being recorded somewhere along its transmission path.)

----- "If you have encrypted data, and no one has the key, is it really there?" -- Larry Masinter, TASSCC 99. -----

Microsoft, Barnes & Noble, and have announced an eBook Initiative to sell thousands of downloadable books for computers or Microsoft's Pocket PC handhelds (using Microsoft Reader e-book software). Available mid-2000. Speech synthesis capability is also planned. [LA Times, 07Jan00. Edupage.]

Intel Corp. is planning a new line of simple-to-use consumer "Web appliances," most likely provided free with a subscription service such as home shopping or online banking. The first models (in mid-2000) will integrate email and ADSL/cable Internet telephony features such as call management and fax. Those sold in Europe will have smartcard capabilities. The appliances will run Linux. [Financial Times, 05Jan00. NewsScan.]

IBM will create a 200-person Linux development organization in the US and India, chiefly producing software for IBM servers. [WSJ, 10Jan00. NewsScan.]

Hundreds of thousands of programmers worked to fix Y2K glitches, and many of are now accepting large pay cuts. One company, Professional Access, is dropping it's contract rate from $120/hour to $70/hour. E-commerce projects are opening up, but the programmers are finding that their Y2K experience is not particularly valued. [LA Times, 05Jan00. Edupage.]

----- "The most certain way to succeed is to always try one more time." -- Thomas Edison. -----

Apple iCEO Steve Jobs has announced a redesigned website that offers free, user-friendly, integrated portal services for Mac OS 9 users. (Apple's site already had 9.5M visitors per week.) The new iTools and services include free email; 20MB of data storage (iDisk) that mounts on your desktop; a HomePage website within your iDisk, with templates such as Photo Album, iMovie Theater, Invites, Baby Announcements, and Resume; elegant online greeting cards (iCards); site reviews (iReview) with user ratings; and kid-safe Web access integrated with Apple's Sherlock 2 search engine. The free email service works with any standard POP-based mail reader (such as Eudora, Outlook Express, or Netscape Communicator) and comes with vacation and forwarding features and 5MB of storage. iCards and iReview do not require OS 9, and none of the services have banner advertising. Instead of just providing information or selling products, "each of the tools, even the Web site reviews, is aimed at helping Macintosh users _do_ something." Apple's control of both the server (running WebObjects) and the client-side Mac OS will permit additional integrated services in the iFuture. OS X is now scheduled for Jan01, with a final beta released to developers this spring. [TidBITS, 10Jan00.] (The i in iCEO now stands for Internet instead of interim-for-life. Jobs intends to stay on the job at both Apple and Pixar.)

Jobs also announced a $200M investment and multi-year partnership with EarthLink Networks to provide Macintosh-friendly Internet services. . [TidBITS, 10Jan00.] (EarthLink recently merged with MindSpring, making it a leading "everywhere" or travel ISP service. AOL is another good travel choice.)

You can read extensive Mac OS 9 coverage from MWJ, a weekly Macintosh journal, in a 76-page, 1MB PDF file available free on's eMatter service. . [TidBITS, 03Jan00.]

What's new in Mac culture is chiefly the resurgence of small developers. Adam Engst compares this "recolonization of the Macintosh forest" to the emergence of new growth after a forest fire. Small companies at Macworld SF 2000 were grouped into a Consumer Showcase; Music and Audio; Extensions Workshop for desktop publishers; Education District; Small Business Solutions; Sci Tech; Digital Media Studio; Net Innovators; and Developer Central. Companies developing for handheld organizers were also in attendance. . [, TidBITS, 10Jan00.]

IBM has added its support to the Mac platform with a Mac version of its ViaVoice speech recognition software. [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 09Jan00. Edupage.]

TidBITS is moving its newsletter and forums to digital.forest, a Macintosh-centric Web hosting service run by Chris Kilbourn. "We've never seen so many Macs of all shapes, sizes, and colors in earthquake-proof rack mounts," with custom Ethernet cables and Maxum's PageSentry monitoring software. The site specializes in FileMaker support for database-backed Web services. [, TidBITS, 10Jan00.]

Neil Shapiro is recreating his seminal MicroNet Apple Users Group (MAUG) -- MicroNet was the original name of CompuServe -- now as free "Micronetworked Apple Users Group" threaded forums and chat on the beta website. Anyone wanting to moderate a new forum -- for pay -- should contact . Programmers have been working to make Mac-friendly interfaces for the service, and the moderators are people who love the Mac. . [Adam C. Engst , TidBITS, 03Jan00.] (For info on the differences between Mac and PC screen displays, see and .)

----- "We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery." -- Samuel Smiles. -----

The Artcontext site from Andy C. Deck lets you draw ASCII pictures as part of chat discussions. . Related ASCII sites are Icontext , Ascii Art Web Pages , Vuk Cosic , Star Wars Asciimation , and Windowsninetyeight . [Matthew Mirapaul, NY Times, 30Sep99. David Dillard, DUC, net-hap.]

Portals, Inc. (Princeton, NJ) offers free news, link menus, and search facilities -- a "Subject Portal" -- for special interest groups, clubs, and organizations. You can also build a personal home page. . [, Xpress Press, 29Sep99. net-hap.]

List-News covers email list software, list hosting and archiving, advertising and opt-in marketing, content development, etc. or . [Brian Alt , NEW-LIST, 29Jul99.] hosts email announcement and discussion lists. .

(ListServe and MajorDomo are two Unix text-based services. I'm opting for a free, Web-based list service called ONElist, with a better interface and back end than I could hope to implement for myself. It recently merged with eGroups, Inc., which has $42M in new funding for the support of online communities. eGroups currently serves 14M members in 280K groups with 48M messages per day, and is growing by 1M new memberships every 20 days. [MediaPeak. ListCity, 28Dec99.] seems to be its chief rival in ad-supported email list delivery, and may have advantages for very large lists.)

Excite At Home Corp. has begun offering free dial-up Internet access, as a lead-in to its $40/month broadband service. [Washington Post, 07Jan00. NewsScan.] (AltaVista and Yahoo! also offer free Internet service, but without the high-speed alternative.)

Broadband Digital Group plans to offer free, ad-supported 1.5Mbps DSL access in the US, starting 01Apr00. . [TechWeb, 03Jan00. Edupage.] (Sign up now for implementation priority. They'll throw in a free DSL modem if you get 10 other people to register.)

To find out if there is DSL service in your area, see . It will list ISPs and estimated rates for your local phone exchange. [N"Gai Croal, Newsweek, 10Jan00, p. 12.]

If you have DSL, cable, or an "always on" Internet connection, try the free security-testing service at . [Lily Laws, 11Jan00.]

----- "It is not for man to rest in absolute contentment. He is born to hopes and aspirations as the sparks fly upwards, unless he has brutified his nature and quenched the spirit of immortality which is his portion." -- Southy. -----

NSF's new figures for 1998 graduate enrollment in Science and Engineering show a 5-year decline since the peak enrollment in 1993. Computer science is the chief exception, up 5%. . [Jay Vegso , CRA Bulletin, 04Jan00.] lets students offer online bids for college tuition, based on their grades and test scores as well as ability to pay. 841 students and six small colleges have signed up since Nov99, with the colleges paying $2K/year for this chance to increase enrollments in majors that have vacancies. [Philadelphia Inquirer Online, 06Jan00. Edupage.] has been developing online courseware for business schools at Chicago, Columbia, and Stanford, each receiving a $1M sign-on bonus. CMU and the London School of Economics are also participating. The schools will license their intellectual property to for its own degree program, but can revoke their material at any time. University Access offers a different business model, supporting business schools that want to offer their own programs. Pensare is a third company in the business, working with Duke to create an online MBA program. Small business schools are worried about the new competition from top schools worldwide. [Financial Times, 10Jan00. Edupage.]

Ed Fox says that Virginia Tech's 1997 requirement of digital dissertation copies is spreading, with UTexas currently considering the policy. Fox's Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations now has over 70 members. [Chronicle of Higher Ed. Online, 04Jan00. Edupage.]

----- "Education is that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding." -- Ambrose Bierce. -----

The UMBC agentWeb site is active again, now at . UMBC's agentNews newsletter will also be revived soon. Topics include agent technology of all kinds -- intelligent, mobile, communicative, cooperative, believable, physical, interfaces, etc. The "AgentWeb Classic" site from two years ago will be maintained but not updated. Contact for information.

Tim Finin says they've rebuilt agentWeb using Jose Vidal's bk2site tool for converting a Netscape bookmark tree into a Yahoo-like site. "Now any yahoo can be a Yahoo!" . [,, 03Jan00.]

The ICMAS-00 Trading Agent Competition will pit software agents against each other in a challenging "travel coordinator" market game. The agents must buy travel packages (of flights, hotel rooms, and entertainment tickets) in electronic auctions. Agents communicate with a Michigan Internet AuctionBot via a TCP-based agent programming interface. Simple example agents are available in a variety of platforms and programming languages. Register by 15Apr00. The final round of the competition will be held at the ICMAS-00 TAC workshop on 08Jul00, in Boston. or . [Peter Wurman , 05Jan00.]

-- Ken